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About Dominica
A Country Like No Other in the World!

by: Thomson Fontaine
Dominica has been described as one of the most beautiful countries in the world. For the distracted observer, this impression is immediately confirmed from the first citing of the Island. Nestled between the French Islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe, this �Nature Isle � is Portsmouth beachsteeped in unparalleled natural beauty, a rich Creole culture, and the friendliest people in the World.

Rediscovered on November 3, 1493 by Christopher Columbus, Dominica was the last of the Caribbean countries to be colonized due in large part to the resistance of the Carib (Kalinago) Indians. Today, Dominica is the only country where the Caribs remain, and they continue to contribute significantly to Dominica�s rich cultural heritage.

France and England fought constantly over Dominica, with the Island changing hands several times during the entire second half of the eighteenth century, leading the Caribs to call the island �Waitukubuli� �land of many battles�.

Because of its mountainous terrain, Dominica remained in the hands of the Caribs longer than any of the other Leeward and Windward islands; although Britain and France had agreed to this arrangement in 1748, France broke the treaty and claimed Dominica.

In 1763 Britain won Dominica, but the French recaptured it in 1778 and again by the British in 1783. Finally, in 1805 France sold Dominica to England for 12,000 British pounds and handed it over after first burning down the capital Roseau.( Read More Dominica History)
Dominica's culture, history and art by Dr Lennox Honychurch

boiling lakeFrom its towering 5000 feet peaks to its gushing waterfalls, hundreds of flowing rivers, azure waters of the sea, and black and white sandy beaches, Dominica offers a unique and diverse experience to all who visits its shores.

The 790 km2 Island boasts a population of 71, 000 people, stable government, and an extremely low crime rate. It also boasts the most centurinarians per thousand of the population in the world.

With a life expectancy of 82 years for females and 78 for males, and ranked by the United Nations as one of the top 35 countries in the world in terms of quality of health care, the country stands as a veritable monument of calm and tranquility.

(Above photos of Portsmouth Beach and Boiling Lake courtesy Eric Baumburger)

Dominica mapDominica geography

Dominica lies in the center of the Caribbean chain of islands, between the French overseas territories of Guadeloupe and Martinique. It is a rugged island noted for its mountains, rivers and waterfalls. It, more than any other island in the Caribbean, has managed to retain its natural beauty. Dominica is home to the second largest boiling lake in the world.

With an area of 298 square miles (751 sq km), it is the fourth largest island in the English speaking Caribbean. At its longest, it is twenty-nine (29) miles and at its widest, it is sixteen (16) miles. It has a population of 71,727 (2000 census) peopled mainly of African descent. There is also an increasing white and Chinese population. Dominica is also home to the last Carib population in the Caribbean.

There are two urban centers in Dominica - the capital of Roseau and the second town of Portsmouth. Roseau is the administrative and commercial center and has a population of 20 000 people. Portsmouth which is much more scenic has a population of 5 000 people. About one thousand (1,000) of these are students and staff (mostly Americans) of Ross University School of Medicine, an offshore medical school.

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Dominica photosHistory

Dominica was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493 but most of its early colonial history was spent changing hands between the French and the English. Although the French finally lost control to the English in 1776, their influence is still strong, principally through the French Creole language which most islanders speak, the dominance of the Roman Catholic church and numerous place names. Dominica became independent in 1978 and is a member of the British Commonwealth. It is also a member of the United Nations, Organisation of American States (OAS), the Caribbean Community and a number of other regional and international organisations. .( Read More Dominica History)back to top of the page

Political System

Dominica is a democratic country which has enjoyed universal adult sufferage since the 1950's. It follows the Westminster model of Government. Elections are held every five years to elect twenty-one (21) members of Parliament. Nine (9) senators are then appointed and together they sit in a unicameral legislature. The Head of State is a President who is elected by Parliament and holds office for a term of five years. His role is essentially ceremonial. The current Prime Minister is the Honourable Roosevelt Skeritt who was elected in May 2005.

There are three (3) main political parties in Dominica. They are the United Workers Party (UWP), the Dominica Freedom Party (DFP) and the Dominica Labour Party (DLP). The present government is the Dominica Labour Party.

Since Independence in 1978, there has been seven Prime Ministers: Patrick John (1978 - 79 DLP); Oliver Seraphin (1979 - 80 DLP);Mary Eugenia Charles (1980 - 1995 DFP);Edison James (1995 - 2000 UWP);Roosevelt Douglas (Feb - Oct 2000 DLP); Pierre Charles (2000 - 04 DLP) ; and Roosevelt Skeritt (2004 - Present DLP). Both Douglas and Charles died in office while John was forced to resign. The President is His Excellency Mr. Nicholas Liverpool who was elected in 2003.

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Judicial System

Dominica enjoys an independent judiciary with its highest court being the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London. At the lowest rung of the judiciary is the Magistrate Court which deals with minor civil and criminal matters. Then there is the High Court which handles serious civil and criminal cases. Appeals from both the High Court and the Magistrate Court go to the Court of Appeal. Dominica shares a Court of Appeal with other members of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States. That court is a circuit court which sits in each island two or three times a year. Appeals from the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal go to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

Dominica has an English common law legal system and most of its statute law is based on United Kingdom precedents. There are about 50 practicing lawyers in Dominica.

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Dominica's economy is substantially based on agriculture, although in recent years great strides have been made on diversification into tourism and offshore services. Bananas is Dominica's principal export and it contributes about 80 percent of Gross Development Product (GDP). Dominica's traditional market for its bananas is the United Kingdom where its exports, along with those of the other Windward Islands, enjoy preferential treatment. Recently, however, the preferential treatment of Dominica and other African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) bananas has been under attack and has been subject of adverse decisions in the Word Trade Organisation (WTO). This has cast a dark shadow over the continued existence of Dominica's banana industry in its traditional form.

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Dominica has a very modern telecommunication system. Indeed, it holds the position in the Guiness Book of World Records as being the first country in the world to establish a fully digital system. The telecommunications providers are Cable & Wireless (Dominica) Ltd., Orange Telecoms, Digicel, SAT Telecoms and Marpin Telecoms and Broadcasting Ltd.

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